I’ve heard countless stories of how this show has radically changed people’s lives. There’s the story of a woman who found the courage to leave her abusive spouse and learned to feel again. There’s the two sisters who lost both of their parents and all they had was each other (sound familiar?) One of their friends suggested they watch Supernatural, they did and they loved it. They could relate to Sam and Dean on a personal level and it helped them to cope. They found a new way to bond as sisters and it gave them hope during a very dark time in their lives.
While I’ve gone through some tough stuff in my life I can’t say Supernatural has gotten me through any of it. If I’m having a bad day, or I just want to say, “Fuck you world.” I go home and I watch Supernatural. Whether it’s one of my favorite episodes from years past (Faith and Home are both great), the seasons that Kevin or Castiel became a part of the show, or just re-watching the latest episode, watching this show always made me feel better
I’ve struggled with depression since I was in high school. It took a lot of therapy, heart to heart talks with friends and family and a stint in an outpatient facility to get where I am now. I’m doing good these days but depression is one of those things that never really “goes away.” It’s always lurking in the background and it can surprise you at any time. It’s something that you live with for the rest of your life.
I’m much more likely to start a conversation around social anxiety, depression or autism than I used to be. When I was younger I was terrified that someone would find out. Then they would hate me because of it. Or call me weird, a freak or not want to be friends with me. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started to realize it was OK to be myself. I got lucky and found a bunch of people who were as weird and nerdy as I was. I found people who didn’t care if I went on and on about Kingdom Hearts or wanted to gush about a particular anime I was into.
Because Jared was so open about his struggles I felt like I could be more open about mine. I figure if this huge TV star can talk about why he couldn’t finish a convention because he was feeling depressed or his anxiety was making his life hell; I figure I can tell my new friend “Hey, I have autism and I can’t always read other people’s social cues.” Now if I could get rid of the crippling anxiety that follows as I wait for them to either accept me or run away screaming, that would be great.
One of the ugly things about depression is that it can lead someone to take their own life. I imagine whoever is reading this wonders if I’ve struggled with that. The answer is yes. Obviously it didn’t take or I wouldn’t be here talking a stranger’s ear off about a show about two brothers who kill monsters.
A lot of charities they support have to do with suicide prevention and awareness. They don’t just donate their money. They talk about these charities at conventions, in interviews, really anywhere they can work it in (when appropriate.) Most people don’t realize how courageous that it. How much hope it gives to people like me, and I’m one of the lucky ones. I can’t imagine the pain, grief and heartache a family goes through after losing a loved one to suicide.
The difference between Supernatural and other shows is the fandom. It’s not just geeking out over your favorite characters or a good episode. It’s the connections you make with people. It’s smiling at the woman who loves your Sam and Dean key chains and says so loud enough for everyone to hear. It’s being pleasantly surprised that the older guy selling you the giant Sam poster has been to a Supernatural convention and he tells you that you should go to one too. It’s wearing a parody of the show on a t-shirt, having a complete stranger recognize a character and making a new friend because you’ve both seen the same show.
This show has changed my life and how I interact with people. It’s taught me that it’s OK to be completely obsessed with something. It’s given me the courage to be even more open about my depression, social anxiety and autism. It’s given me new friends and reconnected me with old ones. It’s given me a refuge to hide from the world when life gets to be too much. It’s given me hope when I feel like I have none. It’s given me a reason to believe in people again. It’s given me a natural conversation starter when I’ve burned through all the small talk.
This show has given me a whole new family; one that didn’t exist before. One that’s just as good as my real family. The reason I keep coming back to this show and it’s fans isn’t just the TV show (though that doesn’t hurt.) It’s the complete acceptance I feel when I’m in the presence of another fan. It doesn’t matter if it’s in person, through a computer screen or at a comic convention. I know this person won’t judge me for how I dress, or that I talk weird (or just plain won’t stop talking.) They don’t care that I’ve had some dark days or that some days talking to a stranger can be a bit overwhelming. They accept me as a weird, autistic, occasionally anxiety ridden person who happens to like the same show they do.
It’s funny to say I’m grateful to my step mom because of a TV show, but I am. If it weren’t for her watching reruns of Supernatural on TNT during the week I wouldn’t have found it at all. It may have ended up like my obsession with Doctor Who. It’s a show I watch and enjoy (sometimes with other people) but I don’t feel like I interact with the fandom that much. That’s not the case with Supernatural. It’s one of the things that qualifies as my narrow (read as selective) interests (that’s a thing if you’re diagnosed with Asperger’s.) I think now my stepmom indulges me half the time, the other half she wants me to shut up about the damn show.
This is much more than a TV show to me. Ask anyone who’s watched a season or two, they will agree with you. It’s a good show, even my boyfriend thinks so, but that’s not what keeps me coming back to it. It’s what the show stands for, it’s the way the cast interacts with the fans, the fans themselves, and the impact the show has had (and will continue to have) on my life. I won’t repeat the particulars since I’ve done that at length. I’ll just say if you’re looking for acceptance, for something that says it’s OK to have a darker side, a new family because yours sucks (or just people who share your interests) then go watch this show. If nothing else you will find a passionate fandom that will open a door into a world you didn’t know existed.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t watch the show. There’s so much to the fandom and the mythology behind the show that everyone has something or someone they like. I don’t know too many shows like that. If you have a friend or family member that won’t shut up about Supernatural you’ll find something too. I just finished a really good book that I think everyone should read called Family Don’t End With Blood by Lynn Zubernis. It’s about how the show has impacted the fans and the cast. It does a better job of explaining it than I do, that’s for sure.
This is the last thing I’ll leave you with (I promise.) There’s something for everyone in this show, this fandom, this lifestyle. It’s impacted my life in ways I can’t explain. Trust me I tried to when I told my mom what I was writing about (it didn’t work.) While I would love it if everyone who read this post started watching the show, I don’t expect them to. My hope is that you’ll read this and learn to accept others without judgment, or you’ll feel less alone because of what I’ve gone through. If nothing else I hope you learn to accept yourself. Cheesy and clichéd I know, but it’s true. It took me a long time to do that. I hope that you learn not only are you good as you are, but working on yourself is OK too. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or that you’re a bad person, or you hate your family. You’re taking time to be a better version of yourself and that’s just as important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.